How I Test and Score Bird Feeders

I purchase and install each bird feeder that I review. It’s set up in my yard so I can observe and test it.

I invested time in designing my bird feeder testing and scoring system, with the dual objective of saving you time, money, and potential frustration, while also maintaining fairness to the brands. Ratings are designed to simplify your choices.

I’d like to further explain how I test and score bird feeders…

Key Factors

pie chart showing the 6 key factors for determining the best bird feeder

I identified six key factors to consider when testing each feeder. Details about each key factor are in the next section.

  1. Safety
  2. Effectiveness
  3. Durability
  4. Cleaning Ease
  5. Warranty
  6. Company

Scoring

I use a 5-point rating system to evaluate all key factors for each bird feeder. For each factor, I assign a score and then determine the overall score by averaging these individual scores.

5.0

Perfect score. All birders will be delighted with the feeder.

4.0 – 4.9

Good score. Most birders will be happy with the feeder.

3.0 – 3.9

Fair score. Some birders will be disappointed with the feeder.

2.0 – 2.9

Poor score. Most birders will be disappointed with the feeder.

1.0 – 1.9

Very poor score. Not recommended.

Onto details of the key factors…

1. Safety

Bird feeders must be safe for the birds as well as other wildlife that may encounter it.

2. Effectiveness

The feeder must be effective at what it claims to do. Here are some examples:

  • A squirrel-proof feeder should keep squirrels out but shouldn’t hinder the birds’ ability to eat. 
  • A peanut feeder should enable birds to access and eat the peanuts.

3. Durability

Unless you want to buy a new feeder each year, the feeder must be made from strong, long-lasting material. I love metal, recycled poly lumber, and even polycarbonate.

The craftsmanship is equally important to ensure the thing doesn’t fall apart in your yard. Look for stainless steel parts & pieces like screws and hangers. Plastic pieces should fit together tight and snug to keep moisture out.

4. Cleaning Ease

Feeders that are easy to clean get cleaned more often. All birders should commit to regularly cleaning their bird feeders.

Feeders that come apart easily make cleaning a breeze. The parts and pieces can fit into a reasonably sized container (or sink) to be scrubbed, soaked (in diluted bleach water), and rinsed.

Feeders crafted from robust materials such as metal, poly lumber, and polycarbonate are capable of enduring the water and bleach needed for thorough cleaning. Avoid wood as it takes days to dry and doesn’t hold up well to bleach soaking.

5. Warranty

High-end bird feeders can exceed $100. To safeguard your investment, seek a robust and extended warranty. Ensure any feeder you purchase for over $100 comes with a minimum 1-year warranty.

6. Company

Quite a few brands have set the bar high in the wild bird market, sticking around for decades because they’ve mastered the mix: high-quality products, fresh innovations, and the kind of customer service that makes you feel like old friends. Here are just a few examples of reputable companies in the bird-feeding market (in alphabetical order):

  • Brome
  • Droll Yankees
  • JCS Wildlife
  • Perky-Pet
  • Squirrel Stopper

By narrowing the pool of products to the ones made by a reputable brand, you mitigate the risk of the feeder ending up on a garbage heap.  In other words, skip the generic and white-label products.